Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oul Hymns

We're in the studio again, recording a track for a promotional CD. We've been invited to do "Shall We Gather At The River", a great old hymn written in Pennsylvania by Robert Lowry. Some say he was of Scotch-Irish descent. I'll go with that - he wrote many classics that the Ulster-Scots should claim if we can! (eg anyone who can write "Christ Arose", "We're Marching to Zion", "All the Way My Saviour Leads Me" and "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" is someone we should definitely claim!!)

It's made me think about oul hymns and how expressive many of them are. The beauty of their language can be stunning. They tend to float into my head FAR more often that any of the Mission Praise youth fellowship fluffy singalongs we used to sing 20 years ago. People throughout the years have consciously, with the very best of intentions, tried to keep Christianity relevant to their generation, and music has been "modernised" many times to try to reach out.

However I wonder if this approach - rather than modernise - might actually trivialise? In fact, maybe the Low Country Boys are trivialising the gospel too. Or maybe I'm just getting oul masel. But the MP favourite "Father God I Wonder" has always troubled me as there is no mention of Christ in it! Christianity without Christ??!! And these triumphant "Days of Elijah" style "praise and worship" songs also concern me. "Days of Jeremiah" would surely be far more appropriate for the present age.

Here's one from the Believer's Hymnbook (the Brethren Sunday morning book). It has always humbled me:

I hear the accuser roar
Of ills that I have done,
I know them well - and thousands more
Jehovah findeth none.

Though the restless foe accuses
Sins recounting like a flood.
Every charge our God refuses;
Christ has answered with His blood.

Here is one with some absolutely magnificent wordplay, written in the mid 1800s by the old Anglican vicar Samuel Whitlock Gandy. (sometimes this is added to the one above)

His be the Victor's name
Who fought the fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honour claim,
His conquest was their own.

By weakness and defeat,
He won the meed and crown;
Trod all our foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.

He Satan's power laid low;
Made sin, He sin o'erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death by dying slew.

Bless, bless the Conqueror slain,
Slain in His victory;
Who lived, who died, who lives again
For thee, His church, for thee!

When the power of those words sink in - wow! So we're thinking about recording a CD of hymns from the Believer's Hymnbook (vocal-only of course). Feel free to make some suggestions of some you'd like us to include.


Anonymous said...

An outstanding idea. Alan Parks did it years ago but not a capella. Put me down for one! CG

Colin Maxwell said...

Boys, I hae fond memories o' the Believer's hymnbook frae my Iron Hall days. The hymn nummer 30 was a great favourite:

Behold, behold the Lamb o' God
On the Cross, on the Cross,
For us He shed His precious blood,
On the Cross, On the Cross,
O hear His all important Cry
Eli lama Sabachthani
Draw near and see the Saviour die
On the Cross, on the Cross
(Tune: Thou Christ o' burnin' cleansin' flame)

Did ye ever see a hymn wi' the Amaramaic language in it like thon?

I remember tae buyin' the tape o' Alan Parkes. It was very guid. I think I wore mine oot.

If you cud get some o' those oul hymns tae your style o' music - sung reverently o' course, it wud be brilliant.